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Stars attend charity event to mark what would have been Sir Bobby Robson's 80th birthday
Sir Bobby's widow Lady Elsie with Mark Knopfler and her husband's iconic England jacket from the 1990 World Cup,
UNSEEN footage of the late Sir Bobby Robson proved a poignant reminder of a North-East footballing legend on what would have been his 80th birthday.
As well as appearing on screen, the presence of the former Newcastle United and England manager was also felt in the shape of his iconic grey suit jacket worn during the 1990 World Cup - when he guided England to the semi-finals, a feat not bettered since 1966.
A star studded line-up attended this evening's (Monday, February 18) charity event - which he planned before his death - at The Sage, Gateshead.
Unseen interviews with Sir Bobby, who also went on to manage Ipswich Town, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, FC Porto and Barcelona, were also screened as a tribute. They included a message he recorded especially for the event.
On seeing the famous grey jacket once more, his son Mark Robson told The Northern Echo: "This was dad's proudest years, he was a proud Englishman.
"It brings back great memories, especially seeing the television footage of him in that jacket with the Three Lions badge."
England Under 21's coach Stuart Pearce, who was part of the Italia 90 team, said: "He was a great statesman of the game and had so much enthusiasm and he was someone who was respected all over the country."
Sir Bobby Robson - A Celebration was held in aid of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which he launched in March 2008, the year before he finally succumbed to his fifth battle against cancer at the age of 76.
It has already raised almost £5m to help fellow sufferers in the region and a DVD of the evening will be produced to further boost the coffers.
His widow, Lady Elsie, said: "It is a night to remember for many reasons.
"We've had such generous support from so many people. Too many to mention really. But the team organising things deserve to be singled out for their dedication. "They're wonderful and so committed and professional."
Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler, who grew up in a Blyth, Northumberland, was among the stars to grace the stage.
He said: "It means a lot to me to be a part of this celebration of the life of Sir Bobby Robson at The Sage."
"Thanks to the commitment and determination of Sir Bobby and the generosity of thousands of people in the North-East, the foundation has achieved an enormous amount in the fight against cancer. May it go from strength to strength."
Durham cricketer Steve Harmison added: "When you look around at all the people here tonight you can see how much Sir Bobby meant to the rest of the country, but especially to the North-East, most importantly to the black and white half."
Sir Bobby Robson - A Celebration, was supported by Virgin Money, and hosted by Jim Rosenthal and former Lindisfarne singer Billy Mitchell.
The night featured an amazing line-up of performers and football greats as well as comedians Paul Whitehouse, Simon Day and Alistair McGowan.
Mr McGowan said: "Bobby was a huge part of my growing up. I cheered on his Ipswich in Europe and our England against the world "He was always so passionate about his work and yet always dignified and ready to laugh, qualities often missing in modern football.
"I met him on a couple of occasions and he really was a true gentleman and very nice to my mother so I'm delighted to help raise money for his foundation."
The emotions of that memorable night in Turin when Sir Bobby's squad crashed out of the World Cup after losing the semi-final to West Germany on penalties were roused as North-East X-Factor winner Joe McElderry sang Nessun Dorma.
Pearce, who played alongside Gazza and Gary Lineker in Italia 90, also spoke about the impact Sir Bobby, who was born in Sacriston, but grew up in Langley Park, County Durham, had on the team that night.
Andre Villas Boas, manager of Tottenham Hotspur, who lived next door to Sir Bobby when he was the manager of Porto in the mid 1990s, said: "Sir Bobby is one of the great managers of the game and without him I probably would not be where I am now.
"He offered me a unique opportunity to get involved in football, taking me under his wing when I was still a teenager. His enthusiasm and passion for management certainly rubbed off on me.
"He was not only a great manager but a great man and I will never forget his generosity towards me, he will always be an inspiration."
The evening, which also raised money for the Alan Shearer Foundation, featured performances from the Northern Sinfonia, The Unthanks, opera star Russell Watson, Peter Brewis of Field Music, The Cornshed Sisters, Paul Smith of Maximo Park, Ruby Turner, Faryl Smith, Scarlet Street, Ben Ottewell of Gomez, Guests included a number of Sir Bobby Robson Foundation patrons with Middlesbrough FC chairman Steve Gibson, Sunderland AFC legend Niall Quinn and Sir Bobby's Ipswich captain Mick Mills along with Sunderland AFC manager Martin O'Neill, Durham CCC's Steve Harmison, Hebburn star Chris Ramsey and Newcastle United's players and coaching staff.
Knopfler played his 1983 classic Local Hero, a tune forever associated with Newcastle United before the evening concluded with all the stars taking to the stage as Russell Watson sang a stirring rendition of Pomp and Circumstance.
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